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Northumbria’s global role in tackling growing health challenge

Monday, 10 June, 2019
Northumbria’s global role in tackling growing health challenge

Clinicians from Tanzania have spent the last month at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as part of a major project to tackle a growing global health problem.

The visit is part of the trust’s international work, aiming to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance when microorganisms cannot be treated by antibiotics as they no longer work.

This is being made worse by the overuse or misuse of antibiotics – leading to ever more diseases becoming resistant or even immune to their effects. The situation is now so serious that the World Health Organisation lists antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 threats to humanity in 2019.

Northumbria Healthcare is one of 12 UK organisations to be awarded funding from the Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship Scheme, funded by the UK Department for Health and Social Care’s Fleming Fund, to carry out work to help improve antimicrobial resistance.

The only project being undertaken in Tanzania, it comes as the trust marks two decades of working in partnership with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) to improve care for patients.

The visit was the first part of the project which will see clinicians from Northumbria go to KCMC this month and Tanzanian colleagues return later in the year.

Brenda Longstaff, head of international partnerships at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Given our well-established link with KCMC which is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the NHS, we are delighted to be part of this project.

“With increasing international travel, antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious challenges facing the global health economy and we’re pleased to have a role in this hugely important issue.

“Being able to demonstrate our practices to our colleagues at KCMC was a great start to our project and a fantastic foundation on which to build.”

The project, which received £65,000 in funding, will see many improvements implemented in Tanzania such as more training in hospitals and in the community on better use of antibiotics, a greater focus on infection control practices and a public health campaign to encourage changes in attitudes and behaviours.

Dr Sarah Urassa, director of hospital services and internal medicine consultant at KCMC, was part of the group which visited the trust’s hospitals, spending time in a wide range of departments including pharmacy, wards and laboratories.

She said: “We were very pleased to visit Northumbria Healthcare to kick-start this project. Seeing first-hand the in-depth work that takes place across Northumberland and North Tyneside on a daily basis to monitor, detect and reduce infections was really insightful.

“As in every country across the globe, antimicrobial resistance is a ticking time-bomb in Tanzania too and we’re hugely excited about the work in the pipeline which will raise awareness of this very serious issue and hopefully change the way that antibiotics are used within our country.”

The other 11 UK-based projects will work with teams in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia

Media contact:

Jaclyn Curry – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1654 / 07833 046680